Actress Lauralee Bell launches 'Just Off Rodeo' Web series with a fashion retail element
Lauralee Bell is best known as Christine "Cricket" Blair on the venerable soap opera "The Young & the Restless," but her latest endeavor has her fusing episodic entertainment with fashion retail — from behind the camera.
"Just Off Rodeo," a comedic web series Bell first conceptualized more than a decade ago, features merchandise users can buy built into the creative content of the show. So if an actress is wearing a great top, users can click to buy the exact item and have it in their hands within days.
"I would see in magazines articles on 'how to get the look,'" said Bell, who has owned two clothing boutiques in L.A. in the past. "But it's never the exact look. I thought, 'How great would it be if you could watch a favorite show and buy the clothes right off the [screen]?'"
Bell's initial idea flowered into a concept ideal for various product placement approaches. For example, '"we could have a designer make a line for three episodes," she said. "Or it can be something a celebrity loves to wear and they can make a guest appearance, with their favorite charity receiving a percentage of the sales of the item."
The first two four-minute episodes, online now, introduce us to three main characters — two shop girls and an uber-flamboyant male hairdresser — all mingling inside a Beverly Hills boutique. The for-sale merchandise — a shawl and a T-shirt, both imprinted with the "Just Off Rodeo" logo — is presented as part of the action. Though it's in-your-face advertising, it doesn't disrupt the flow of the story.
And the story is, so far, darned amusing. It revolves around the characters: an affluent Beverly Hills brat, an earnest fashion graduate and the parody of a hairdresser, who, we find out, hadn't actually been hired by the store's proprietor.
Bell's ultimate goal is to morph the webisodes into a half-hour TV sitcom, but she's also open to staying on the Web, provided key partnerships bloom. She has yet to reach out to designers and brands, hoping to gauge interest in the series on a grass-roots level first.
"I've been developing this idea for so long," said the mother of two. "And one day, literally, I was watching 'Oprah,' and Paula Dean was on and she said something like, 'You can sit on your butt your whole life or make it happen.' I decided right then to really start doing it."
Video: Episode One of "Just Off Rodeo." Credit: Martin Bell Prods. LLC